ICYMI – Ev Erlich on Broadband in America
High Tech Forum contributor Ev Erlich published a good piece in the Wall Street Journal, about the state of broadband in the U.S.
He points out that Verizon and AT&T “have invested more in the U.S. in 2011 than the top five oil and gas companies, and nearly four times more than the Big Three auto companies combined.”
The investment came as a result of the Telecom Act of 1996, and then to end of mandatory leasing and beginning of the facilities based approach adopted by the FCC in 2004. Europe’s old style regulatory regime, on the other hand, has caused investment to stagnate. ISPs, using wires from incumbent telephone companies, have little incentive to make improvements.
Erlich acknowledges, as do we, that the facilities-based model isn’t perfect.
Nineteen million Americans, mostly rural, lack access to wired broadband, although an increasing number of them have access to wireless LTE. The “digital divide” still separates families near or below the poverty line. Work also remains to be done to ensure that every school, hospital and public facility has high-speed access.
Some say the answer is to turn back the clock. That would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.